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The best of times, or the worst of times — our choice

Dave Ransom  |  Issue: April | May 2018

“It will soon be obvious that half our tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI (artificial intelligence) and robots,” wrote venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee to the technology community recently.

“This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced,” he said, “and we’re not ready for it . . . not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way.”

The transition from production by human labor to production by robots is entirely new; and yet, to understand how to deal with it, we, the workers of the world, can learn from the past.

Dr. Lee criticized his colleagues who aren’t trying to solve the problem. “What’s worse . . . is that they actually refuse to acknowledge the problem exists in the first place.”

“These changes are coming,” Lee said, “and we need to tell the truth and the whole truth. . . . These will be the best of times and the worst of times. If we act rationally and quickly, we can bask in what’s best rather than wallow in what’s worst.”

So true. We face a choice. On one hand, we can live equally and happily in the society of abundance that robotics makes possible. On the other, we can live doubled up in small apartments, sleeping on the streets, or struggling back home on failing farms — if the powers that be let us live at all.

That’s what we face — and what our children and grandchildren face — if we don’t take hold of our society and reorganize it so the way to get fed, clothed, and housed is no longer only by working at jobs that no longer exist.

And while we have ever faced this choice before, our ancestors have taken control of their lives and made major changes, whether from organizing and striking for living wages in the U.S. textile industry or dividing up the fincas of the latifundistas in the Mexican Revolution.

The choice is up to us.

Un Comentario | One Comment

  1. So many laws have been enacted. A long time ago against naturalized citizens engaged in violent revolution. Then, NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act signed and authored by Obama. NDAA result of Obama ordering drone assasination of Al Awaki and his 16 year old son. Al Awaki was an American born citizen whose parents were from Yemen. The book says, Al Awaki left USA, respected Mosque leader, and went back to Yemen after FBI threatened to tell his followers about adultery with a prostitute. Although at first Al Awaki solid with USA after 9/11 controlled demolition, blaming only the terrorists, Al Awaki later changed his politics. In Yemen he started a website preaching Jihad. The NDAA now can jail any US citizen for planning violent action against USA. Nobody wants to get deported. Now with NDAA not even a day in court. We continue in the struggle.

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